Landing Work for Dream Clients: Little Outdoor Giants for Eureka!

November 9, 2016

By Conor Risch

PDN recently spoke with three shooters and photography brands to find out how they identified, pitched and eventually won work from “dream clients”—those who embrace and support their creative visions and pay well for their work. Here, one of those photography brands, the shooting duo Little Outdoor Giants, shares their dream client story.

The photography team Little Outdoor Giants were on their first assignment, photographing a 16-day canoe trip, when they had an experience that led to work for outdoor gear company Eureka!, one of their dream clients.  On the trip, it “poured for ten days straight,” recalls Dom Casserly, one half of the Little Outdoor Giants team, and the Eureka! tent they were staying in kept their laptop and other gear safe. “Coincidentally one of the best pictures from that shoot… was a shot from inside the tent,” adds Jarrod McCabe, the other half of Little Outdoors Giants.

Though aware of the Eureka! brand, Casserly and McCabe, who shoot outdoor lifestyle and travel work, say they hadn’t used the tents before that shoot, and that it wasn’t a brand that had a lot of traction among their friends. They recognized there might be an opportunity for them to create work for Eureka! that would speak to them and people like them who spend as much time as they can in the outdoors. They characterize their work as authentic—admittedly “an overused word,” says McCabe—accessible and inclusive. “We’re not out there climbing Everest and doing first ascents and stuff like that, but it’s important to us to have a good time in the natural world,” he adds.

© Little Outdoor Giants

Little Outdoor Giants specialize in outdoor and lifestyle photography. A good experience with an outdoor equipment brand led them to pursue—and land—Eureka! as a client. © Little Outdoor Giants

When they teamed up in 2011 as emerging photographers in the Boston area, Little Outdoor Giants created a list of “100 dream clients, and we picked those clients based on products and brands that we actually use and believe in,” Casserly says. The list is constantly growing, and they added Eureka! after their canoe trip. “We talked about how awesome a tent it was, really easy to set up, and we had a ton of space and things like that, we just really liked it,” McCabe recalls. They figured out they had a connection from past work to Byron O’Neill, the design director at Solidarity of Unbridled Labour, a brand design firm in Vermont that works with Eureka! among other outdoor companies.

Little Outdoor Giants met with Solidarity and showed their portfolio, then kept in touch for about a year and a half with postcards, emails and other marketing efforts. When work for Eureka! came up this past spring, Solidarity asked them to bid.

They worked with their rep, Michelle Bablitz of Saint Lucy Represents, to put together a treatment for the job, which was to create a brand image library for print, digital, product hang tags and other uses. The client also asked for video. During the bidding process, they spoke about their experiences using a Eureka! tent, and talked about how they’d deliver the 50 images, plus variations, the client needed. “We’re able to handle certain size productions that we were not ready for two years ago,” Casserly says.

Little Outdoor Giants had two days to make the photographs required by the clients. They set the shoot on Kachess Lake in Washington State’s Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. The creative concept revolved around how people use their camp as a hub for all manner of outdoor activities. “They wanted a shoot that obviously highlighted the tents, but it was more than just the tents, so we had paddle boarding, we had mountain biking, we had a little bit of hiking,” Casserly recalls.

When they first decided to collaborate, the pair connected over their desire to “tell stories that we not just believe in but that we live,” Casserly explains, and to go after work that made sense for them. “We’re really able to approach all these things with a personal history and a personal story that really helps the work.” They also believe, McCabe adds, that there is value for clients in hiring photographers to shoot “something that they’re familiar with versus hiring someone who has great pictures but knows nothing about your product.”

After they wrapped their Eureka! shoot late on the second day, the client gave Little Outdoor Giants a couple of tents, which they put to use immediately as they traveled and explored the Northwest. “We’ve been sleeping in them since,” Casserly said as the pair spoke with PDN from the road in August.

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